Many observers warmly welcomed reports of a 40.5 percent drop in illegal border crossings this week, but a CNN commentator lamented Thursday that the numbers mean fewer illegal immigrants are coming to America.
“The numbers are down, but at what cost?” asked former Congressional Black Caucus Executive Director and general counsel Angela Rye during a panel discussion on the cable network. “At some point, you have to value the conditions that human beings are experiencing not even within our borders.”
“The numbers are down, but at what cost?”
Rye also blasted President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a border wall, arguing that physical barriers do not work.
“Let’s take some time to figure out something that works and is humane,” she said.
Rye made her comments in response to an observation by Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis that the decline in border apprehensions from January to February likely is due to Trump’s tough talk. He said deterrence is preferable to controversial enforcement measures like stepped-up deportation.
“This is not kicking grandmas out of the country,” he said. “This is Donald Trump, by the force of his rhetoric — this isn’t even self-deportation. This is like self-non-illegal crossing. He is convincing people not to show up.”
To Rye, however, that is harmful.
“That assumes that there’s no danger, right, in rhetoric,” she said. “I can’t help but to think about, even though it’s just about the border crossings piece, there are things that have happened to people here.”
Rye said many illegal immigrants are fleeing violence and suggested it is immoral to discourage them from trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.
“They’re trying to escape situations for many of them that are not safe,” she said. “And they’re saying, ‘I would rather risk where I am than try to come there.'”
Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism at NumbersUSA, told LifeZette that many of the world’s 7.4 billion people are in similarly dire circumstances.
“So the question is, how many of them do we want to allow in?” he asked.
Chmielenski said NumbersUSA long has advocated helping people in their own countries as the best way to alleviate suffering.
“You can’t solve the problem by simply opening up your borders,” she said.
While Democratic Party officials and progressive activists appear to be pulling further Left on immigration — to the point where stopping or deterring illegal immigration is controversial in some circles — Chmielenski said he does not believe the public has shifted. He said polling shows a wide range of sometimes-conflicting opinions about how to deal illegal immigrants living in the United States.
“Where you don’t see the discrepancy is on ending illegal immigration,” he said.
New York City Councilman Joseph Borelli put it succinctly during the CNN panel: “I don’t know when it’s become not PC to say that obeying the law is a good thing.”